Strait Street: A Walk through History

11 November 2015

Valletta’s Strait Street is easily the most famous street in Malta. Known as Strada Stretta in Maltese, the street was the pinnacle of nightlife amongst American and British military men and Maltese frequenters between the 19th and mid-20th century. 

Strait Street represents a fascinating period of time in Malta’s history – one in which people of different nationalities and classes intermingled together in a social context. This was a new kind of multiculturalism, one that was different from previous centuries of simply being dominated by power after power. This was more integrated, more inclusive. Strait Street became a hub in which English, Italian, and Maltese could co-exist. Certainly, this level of interaction with soldiers meant that many more Maltese learnt the English language – from barmen to the Maltese ladies who pined after the foreign sailors. 

Strait Street

Strait Street also became a notable platform for live music, especially jazz. As more and more musicians learnt to emulate the songs from records brought from the USA, the stronger the grooving sounds of piano, drums, bass, and saxophone permeated from the street’s many venues. 

The fun was hardly innocent, as one might imagine. Indeed, Strait Street’s reputation stems from its sheer contrast to the Catholic Malta that encased it, with its drunkenness, rowdiness, prostitution, and even cross-dressing being the nightly routine. It’s no wonder that the street was known as the ‘The Gut’ amongst its English visitors. 

An old bar in Strait Street

Thankfully, the secrets of the street have not been buried at sea. Strait Street is the result of the need to create optimism in an era haunted by war, and it has been documented as an iconic part of Malta’s history. A number of books have been written about it, and a TV show called Strada Stretta is currently running weekly on Maltese television. 

Does Strait Street exist today? Yes, and it’s just as vibrant as it ever was! Nowadays the popular area still hosts bars, live music, and even festivals. We’re pretty sure that there’s less debauchery, though. 

Strait Street today

Top Blog Posts

More posts by this author

Username required... 
Password required... 
Invalid login details... 
Facebook login failed. There is no Facebook account registered with this email address.  
LOGIN 
LOGOUT 
Email required... 
SUBMIT 
Change password request. 
Invalid account... 
Email Sent! 
An email with a password change request has been sent to your email address. Once received, click on the link provided to be able to change your password.
Join our newsletter
Are you sure you want to unsubscribe?
Merħba 
Good to see you again
to
from
BOOK NOW
We have placed cookies on your device to ensure you get the best experience on our website.
Got it!